Monthly Archives: April 2022

ski fomo

I’ve been having major FOMO over skiing lately.  Washington got a bunch of snow in April, and so local ski resorts have been extending their closing dates.  The ski resort I usually go to, Crystal Mountain, for example, is going to be open until Memorial Day on Fridays and weekends.  However, I had my goal 10K race 3 weeks ago, our vacation to Oregon, another goal race this weekend, my first day of work Monday, and my daughters’ First Communion next weekend along with a visit from their godmother, a friend of mine from grad school.  All in all, there hasn’t been time for skiing.  That hasn’t stopped me from *watching* skiing on Peacock.  I subscribed to Peacock for the Olympics.  After being wildly disappointed with my subscription for the summer Olympics (which I canceled immediately afterwards), I’ve been really impressed since the winter Olympics.  Apparently NBC responded to criticism.  My $5 / month subscription gives me access to all of the World Cup skiing from ’21-’22 . . . and lots of other stuff, including, for example, most major professional cycling races.  It’s great.  I’ve been enjoying it so much, I don’t think we’ve turned on Netflix in ages.

Crystal hasn’t opened *all* their lifts.  They’ve opened most of them but left closed the lift that serves the most advanced green runs as well as the easier blue runs I’d been working on.  They recently added a new 3D trail map along with descriptions of the runs.  The interface is rather user-hostile, but hopefully they’ll improve it.  In any case, I think the trail descriptions are super useful!  When you’re moving up from greens to blues, or I’m guessing blues to blacks, you kind of want to know what you’re getting yourself into.

The first blue run I did at Crystal is called Downhill.  It is pretty easy except for one very steep section.  At least, I think it’s steep.  It’s wide, no trees, and everyone says it’s the first “easy” blue you should do.  I don’t find it easy, however.  Description:

This wide trail offers excellent terrain for carving on a groomer. The upper half of the run is a great place for beginners wanting to try out a blue. Avoid the steep section towards the bottom known as The Burn by taking the cat track to the right under the Forest Queen Chair. For those wanting a little more challenge, look for softer snow along the edges of The Burn. This steep section can become scraped down to firm snow and sometimes ice later in the day. Below, the terrain mellows again for what is locally known as the Afterburn before returning to the bottom of the chair. This run is best in the morning when the snow is freshly groomed. Starting below the top of the Forest Queen Chair, this trail is easy to find. Flanked by tall trees and a steep slope on the left, this picturesque trail rolls through varied terrain, making for a fun and fast run.

OK, so at least they acknowledge that there is a steep section.  And yes, calling it “the burn” is apt.  After getting comfortable-ish on Downhill, I finally ventured onto another blue run.  An employee told me all the blue runs off this particular lift were pretty easy, so I tried Rolling Knolls.  I’d describe it as comparable in difficulty to Downhill, maybe a little more tricky in some ways because it’s narrower and if you don’t avoid the fall line, it is steep.  But you can avoid the steepest route down, so it’s not bad.

This challenging blue starts as a sidehill traverse from the Downhill run. Once you can see the steep dropoff, you are committed to the trail, so take caution. For skiers and riders wanting to avoid going all the way to the bottom of the ski area to transition to the Mountain Top side of Crystal, Rolling Knolls offers a fun, steep and sometimes powdery shortcut. The run drops sharply twice, making a slight right turn to end at the bottom of Rainier Express. The best snow can be found on the far right side of the lower drop, where the terrain is much steeper. This run is steep enough that it requires a winch for grooming. Stay in the groomed section for less challenge. The trees on either side of the run offer fun glades. The glade on the right side is often quite deep and steep. Watch for avalanches and tree wells.

Watch for avalanches?  Really?  OK.

In any case, since my favorite lift is closed, I’d need to ski either “Little Shot” or “Green Valley” if I were to go skiing again.  (We do seem to have one free weekend between now and the end of May.)

Little Shot:

A long cat track, Little Shot is the easiest route on Rainier Express. Start at the top of Green Valley Express, taking the Back Traverse to Powder Pass. From here, ski/ride down the first face of Lucky Shot. At the top of the second face, find the cat track on skier’s left. Follow this until it ends under the chair below the bottom of the third face of Lucky Shot. Either veer left here and take Upper Arwines or stay under the Rainier Express to the bottom.

This sounds very manageable to me, though I have very little experience with cat tracks.  I feel like I’m pretty comfortable with steeps at this point, but I am not comfortable with narrow runs.  I have basically done no narrow runs whatsoever.  I guess there’s only one way to rectify that!  The other option is Green Valley:

A long, snaking groomer with some steeper sections, this main run on Green Valley Express is also known as Greenback. Green Valley begins at the top of Green Valley Chair. Look for the groomed swath on the skier’s left of the vast Green Valley Bowl. There are many routes here, but this is the most obvious and popular. As far as blue runs go, this is a challenging one. It is steepest at the top. The second headwall is shallower than the first and the third headwall, if it can even be called that, is shallower still.

I feel like I should be able to handle this, but I’d hate to realize I was wrong at the top with no other way down the mountain.  If only I wasn’t such a wimp!

twitter thoughts

I look at Twitter occasionally.  I never go to to start, but sometimes I’ll read a news article and there will be a tweet.  Because of the privacy settings, I have to go to Twitter to see said tweet.  I probably do this less than once a week – maybe once or twice a month.  However, I decided to stop by and see what all the fuss was about.  I started scrolling through and reading tweets and I found myself getting pissed off.  Everyone is very loudly and often offensively expressing their opinions, which I often don’t agree with.  These obnoxious tweets are interspersed with “interesting” posts about this or that arcane thing that I find not interesting in any way.  Wow.  Yuck.  I vowed not to visit Twitter again any time soon.

With that said, lots of other people visit Twitter.  It’s kind of alarming that the Twitter addicts have such an outsized influence on life and politics.  What kind of personality traits lead someone to spend a lot of time on Twitter?  And do we really want people with those personality traits (eg Musk) affecting our lives?  In any case, needless to say, I fully agree with Musk that censoring major newspapers – Covid origins, laptop story, etc. – is utterly unacceptable.  Let’s consider Covid “misinformation.”  Who gets to decide what is misinformation?  The CDC?  I personally think the CDC is probably about as good as it gets in terms of government organizations in terms of health advice.  With that said, it’s an arm of the government, and letting the government decide what is “misinformation” is seriously sketchy.

In Russia, media organizations that aren’t in line with Putin are suppressed and put out of business directly.  Things aren’t that bad in the US.  But if major newspapers, like the New York Post, cannot share their articles on Twitter because a government organization of any kind deems them “misinformation,” that is a serious problem.  Here in the brave state of Washington, our governor wanted to make it a crime to claim that an election was “rigged.”  Sounds great, right?  That would prevent all that nonsense in 2020 when Trump’s cronies claimed the election was unfair, right?  OK.  But what about when the election actually *is* rigged?  And anyone who points that out is thrown in jail?  Luckily, the legislators in WA declined to pass the bill.  For me, it’s just not possible to have a neutral arbiter that decides what’s truth and what’s misinformation.  You have to let people make up their own minds.  Otherwise, you’re no better than Putin.

If I were in charge, I’d only allow people to post on social media under their own names.  If you compare the comments section on the Seattle Times or really any newspaper other than the NYT and the Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times and the like are filled with insults, vulgarity and poor behavior.  The Wall Street Journal makes people post under their real names, and the comments section is a different animal, with relatively civil discourse.  (The NYT also has polite discourse but they review all comments before posting, something which most newspapers and forums cannot afford.)  I’d like to see ALL online communities require people to post under their real names.  How to verify real names?  A credit card would be a pretty good option, or government ID for those who lack credit cards.

Groups are a problem.  I’d really like to stop “groups” from posting as a group without a name.  You could still allow groups, like say a newspaper, to post, but require under the group header to be the name of an actual person affiliated with that group.  So, if the New York Post, or a local road race, wants to post, fine, but there had to be an actual human putting their name out there.  In other words, no anonymous posting, ever.

Skiing and cycling

I booked our accommodation for skiing next year!  We are going to Park City.  In the end, I decided the ease of travel made Park City a win over other potential destinations.  We seriously considered Steamboat, as it would have saved us some money on passes due to sharing agreement with our local mountain, but everything I read talked about Steamboat being great for tree skiing, and I am just not excited about this.  Also, there is only one direct flight from Seattle to Steamboat a day (and vice versa) to transportation there isn’t ideal.  I was seriously tempted by Beaver Creek, but accommodation prices meant we would have been able to stay *in* Beaver Creek but would have had to stay in the nearby town of Avon.  That’s a short manageable drive away, but with a three-year-old, I thought this was a good year to put a priority on convenience.  We also looked at Big Sky Montana but nixed that due to accommodation prices.

Most ski resorts were non-starters due to lack of options for three-year-olds.  Really only the very large resorts and lessons for younger kids and childcare.  If we continue to enjoy skiing, we’ll have many more options the following year.

The one outlier in terms of cost in Park City is rental cars.  A standard SUV will run us $1400 for seven days, much higher than at other locations (like Steamboat or Beaver Creek).  So I’m hoping they’ll run a sale or something, or maybe we can just forego a rental car completely.

The VRBO I booked in Park City is very close to Park City Mountain ski lifts.  It’s a short drive from Park City Canyons, which one can ski on the same lift ticket.  It’s also a short drive from Deer Valley.  Deer Valley lift tickets are completely exorbitant, but perhaps we could spend one day there.  Or Jonathan and I could put the kids in lessons at Park City and ski there on our own, ha ha.  We’ll see.

Meanwhile, my interest is shifting from skiing to cycling.  I have my last goal race of the “season” this weekend – a 10K.  The following weekend, L and B are getting their First Communion, and an old friend who is L’s godmother is coming in for the weekend.  I won’t be cycling this weekend, and may or may not be able to squeeze in a short cycle the First Communion weekend.  But I’m hoping that the following weekend I’ll be able to start cycling regularly.

I took the girls for a flat 10 mile cycle on a local paved trail.  It was the first cycle I’d taken them on in ages, and L has spent so little time cycling, she was a little uncomfortable on her bike at first.  However, once we got going, a good time was had by all.  The girls went about 7 mph, which is pretty slow, but they didn’t seem tired afterwards.  I think we could all go farther together.

I feel like I’ve never been able to make any real progress in cycling due to not doing enough of it.  I just don’t feel all that comfortable cycling on the roads during the week due to traffic.  Since I’m going back to work, if I wanted to cycle on a weekday morning, I’d be out during rush hour.  I think you’re asking for an accident if you do that too frequently, and I don’t really enjoy it anyway.  But only cycling one day of the weekend means I never get that much cycling fitness.  (Cycling both weekend days is obviously not practical due to family obligations.)  Therefore, I’m thinking about getting a trainer.  Decent bike trainers are expensive, so it would be an investment.  But I’ve been looking for a way to exercise at home, either running or biking, for a while.  I think maybe it’s an investment worth making.  Or maybe I should just join a gym!  But then I have to drive to said gym, and until recently, WA required masks even when working out, which is a nonstarter for cardio for me.  And it just feels like such a waste if / when I don’t use it.  Like most people, I never seem to get my money’s worth from gym memberships.

illustrated children’s books

I have always appreciated a beautifully illustrated full-length children’s book.  I’m not talking about a few color plates here and there, but say, at least half the pages illustrated.  Here are a few we own:

  1. Heidi – one of my personal favorites
  2. Little Women – I actually don’t love this one, but many people do
  3. The Secret Garden – stunning illustrations and of course, a beautiful story
  4. Harry Potter Sorcerer’s Stone – We received this one as a gift, and I think Bri has read it a dozen times.  I just discovered the first five books are all available in this format and purchased the second one.
  5. The Golden Compass – We loved listening to the audiobook together, and Bri seems to have enjoyed reading the illustrated version as well.

Does anyone else have any recommendations for illustrated children’s books?

another school rant

So, L’s school finally announced the end of their indoor and outdoor mask mandate, as of Monday.  However, this is the e-mail that I received:

The CDC and the AAP recommend masking indoors at school but does not require it. Therefore, FISW will recommend and encourage but will not require masking.

This is simply not true.  However, it is true that the CDC has failed to fully update their school recommendations webpage.  They have added a cryptic blurb at the top, but that’s it.  Talk about f*cking ambiguous messaging.  If you dropped an internet capable alien on earth right now, I doubt it could figure out the CDC’s position on school masking.  You have to go to here – which was very hard to find – to see their updated note that schools should follow community guidelines on masking.  The AAP national organization has updated its masking guidance here, but Washington state, as the e-mail suggests, hasn’t released a subsequent press release since early Feb.  Are we to conclude that they STILL believe all children should mask all day long in school?  I suppose so.  The whole thing makes me f*cking furious.

L is heading on a field trip to Mt. Rainier next week.  The fact that she is going on this field trip is a minor miracle.  It is the first non-virtual field trip since 2020.  However, I find it beyond absurd that I must get her a PCR Covid test 72 hours in advance.  Really?  You must be joking.  The sooner they end free PCR tests the better as people will feel less entitled to arbitrarily require them without rhyme or reason.  Mt. Rainier, in case this is unclear, is an outdoor destination.  Yes, they will be on a bus to get there – but with the same kids they’re with all day anyway.  I mean really.  Is this a joke?

(ETA: The kids are rapid tested once or twice weekly regardless, so the PCR is in addition to the normal rapid testing.)

But then, today, I got a permission slip for another field trip.  They’ve been making us sign permission slips all year long for VIRTUAL field trips which just makes my head hurt.  This one is non virtual but on school grounds.  Schools grounds are very small.  It’s not even clear to me where they’re going.  To the gym?  Why the hell do we need a permission slip for this?  It’s beyond absurd.

I was, however, pleased to see the nonsensical public transportation mask mandate lifted today.  The judge called it arbitrary and capricious.  I agree.  As a claustrophobe, I find plane travel unpleasant at best.  Wearing a mask makes it worse.

Now, if I could just shop for new glasses without a mask.  I went to the optometrist today, and I can totally get how the patient area where they’re checking your eyes is a medical area, but the front where you’re shopping for glasses?  They also clean any pair of glasses you touch, which makes me feel guilty about trying them on because then they have to go through this whole disinfection process.  The good news is that my eyes are almost holding steady.  I’m at -7.25 in the left, up from -7.00, but only marginally.  At this rate, I won’t go blind before I die.

skiing vs cycling: which is more likely to kill you?

Skiing and cycling have a lot in common, in my opinion.  If you live in a hilly area, cycling includes a large side of speedy white knuckle or just joyous descents.  I remember the first time I did a lot of cycling, at Georgia Tech, I’d ride down the hill on the west side with no hands and no helmet most days.  It was a glorious feeling, but I hope my kids never do that.  The major difference with cycling, of course, is that you have to lug yourself up to the top of the hill before you can zoom down.  And it makes your butt hurt, whereas skiing is more likely to make your feet hurt.

Both are kind of hazardous.  Which is more dangerous?

  • Annual cycling fatalities: 1089 (as of 2019)
  • Annual cycling injuries (nonfatal): 417,485 (as of 2019 –
  • 88% of cycling fatalities are men
  • Annual skiing fatalities: 42 (’19-’20 ski season)
  • Ski death rate: 0.81 deaths per million skier days
  • Annual Ski injuries (nonfatal): 158,400 (
  • Ski injury rate: 3 injuries per thousand skier days
  • 83% of skiing fatalities are men
  • Majority of ski fatalities are men under 30 skiing on intermediate terrain
  • Majority of ski fatalities were caused by collisions with other skiers and stationary objects
  • 53 million annual ski / snowboard visits (as of 2015 – 2016)

In summary, you’re more likely to get injured cycling, and you’re much, much more likely to die cycling.  (Thanks, irresponsible distracted drivers.)  I definitely feel like I’m taking my life in my hands to some degree when I cycle.  It’s not just a fear of death, but of severe injury.  When I ski I worry about a moderate injury – broken bone, torn MCL/ACL or something like that.  I’m not worried about death or a permanently life-changing injury.

Would you have guessed that cycling was much more dangerous than skiing?

vacation status: rainy

We made it to Oregon today and the weather is dreadful – as in gale warning dreadful.  They are predicting rain all day long every day of our five day vacation.  We drove farther south than we usually do which gave us more bang for our buck, and the house we’re staying in is quite nice.  But still.  It’s not ideal.  It’s not unexpected to have rain in April, but I have to say it is a bit unlucky to have rain for all five consecutive days all day long, as projected.  On day 5, the rain likelihood does dip to below 50% throughout the day, meaning it probably won’t actually rain all day.    But that’s the only bone we’ve been thrown.  You win some, you lose some, I guess.  We’ve definitely had some good luck on other vacations, so perhaps we were due.

I have no problem being lazy and sitting in front of the fire reading or watching movies, but we’ve already heard “I’m bored” from the kids.  So yeah.  We’ll see, I guess!